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Royal Parks opposes location of Adjaye and Arad’s Holocaust Memorial

  • 6 Comments

The charity that manages London’s royal parks has officially objected to Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects’ proposals to build a Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens 

A planning application has been submitted to Westminster Council for the memorial and learning centre, which is proposed for the small park near the Houses of Parliament.

But the Royal Parks is opposing the plans, arguing the site is not an ‘appropriate location’ for the project given the impact it will have on a public amenity space in an area of London with few green spaces. 

The objection letter submitted to the London authority reads: ‘Overall the sombre nature of the memorial, the large structure and the necessary security measures around the curtilage of the Victoria Tower Gardens will change the nature of what is currently a relaxed park alongside a unique riverside location.’

It is the latest blow for the government-backed memorial project which has faced significant opposition from local residents who argue the memorial will ‘destroy a treasured park’. 

Save Victoria Gardens (SVTG) has led the campaign against the project, with 529 objections now lodged with Westminster’s planning authorities.

Last week David Adjaye infuriated opponents of the project by arguing that ‘disrupting’ the pleasure of being in a park is key to its thinking.

Defending the project in The Times, Adjaye said he was ‘excited’ about the site, which he said had already been turned into a ‘memorial garden’ with monuments to the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage.  

‘We have the opportunity to activate the entire site and talk directly to parliament, hold it accountable,’ he said. ‘Disrupting the pleasure of being in a park is key to the thinking.’

The project has also faced criticism from Jewish peers who wrote to the The Times in October, arguing that the scheme ‘evokes neither the Holocaust nor Jewish history’.

Last week a spokesperson for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation admitted the plans would ‘provoke and challenge’ visitors to think about the impact of the Holocaust on our society, culture and Parliament.

The design for the government-backed project includes 23 bronze fins, an entrance pavilion and an underground learning centre which will aim to improve visitors’ understanding of the Holocaust and its impact on Britain.

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates' Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster
 

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • The debate about location should have been conducted at the outset of this process, not after two years of work. For a variety of reasons, some of which have arisen since the inception of this project and some of which were there from the outset, Victoria Tower Gardens is far from ideal as a location. A site in Regent's Park would be preferable. The outstanding design team would do an excellent job there.

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  • The calm voice of reason - but will it have any effect on those who'll think this is non-pc? - and the more opportunistic of our politicians surely won't give up building the project at this location without a fight.

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  • Well said Paul and Robert

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  • Anyone who's designed a holocaust memorial, or even visited one for that matter, knows how impossible it is for the architecture to succeed while, at the same time, attempt to "tell a story." In the face of unspeakable inhumanity, the more silent the architecture, the powerful the message. The choice of site for this monument may have been the most powerful architectural decision. The architecture of the proposal would improve immensely were it to be less overtly didactic (mastaba-as-death chamber and heroic parallel walls demonstrating we all die alone) and simply work quietly to exploit the charged space between the Christian monument to the death of one and the memorial to the murder of millions.

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  • Perhaps a better location for the Holocaust Memorial would be at the northern end end of Victoria Embankment Gardens.....not far from the Monument of Belgium's Gratitude.

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  • This is another project like the Garden Bridge that seemed a good idea but then when considered thoughtfully, would be too controversial and counterproductive. This does not mean that the Holocaust should not be memorialised as it has been in many countries, and especially in Berlin, Austria and at the Yad Vashem in Israel, but that this site is not appropriate for the memorial on a treasured and relaxing space on a UNESCO protected site next to Parliament that is in fact too small to hold such a serious monument that will become more of an 'attraction' fraught with security and maintenance difficulties.
    There is already a Holocaust memorial and garden in Hyde Park, and the Imperial War Museum has grandiose plans in place to extend its already impressive Holocaust Exhibition galleries that fits all the aspects of a learning centre, which could work with the Holocaust Memorial Foundation. The UK was not responsible for the Holocaust , though its role during WWII in not bombing the train network to Auschwitz is scandalous. This could all be brought out on the IWM gallery, in the context of WWII and within a campus that could also include an impressive memorial.
    Sadly none of the schemes in the competition were of the stature that befitted such a memorial, and the Adjaye/Arad scheme least so, looking like a giant toast rack, with massive fins and mounds around it, now including a sentry box entrance, which will block protected views of Parliament and the river and detract from the need to approach such a memorial building with dignity and calm -which this proposal does not produce.
    The fact that many Jewish peers, whose families perished in the Holocaust and many Jews, religious and secular oppose this scheme gives us pause for thought.
    The best memorial to the Holocaust is 'Never Again' for any people who are discriminated against, oppressed and dehumanised, and the money allocated for this would be better spent in education on this theme.
    Let's hope that Westminster Council sees sense and turns this down.

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